Random thoughts of a Brit living in the Imperial Valley of California


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Its the start of my second day in Tokyo. I am staying in the Akasaka district which, from local food and beer prices, appears to be a centre for business people on an expense account. We ate in one of the Chinese restaurants in the hotel on Weds night, my bill was $70 for a small plate of beef and green peppers, rice and three small beers. Arigato gozaimasu Sony! It is cheaper outside the hotel but not by a whole lot in this neighbourhood.

From the hotel there are several side streets with brightly lit signs so I took a walk last night to check it out. It was mostly a collection of small restaurants and bars hidden behind closed doors but with bright neon signs proclaiming something that I certainly could not understand. You read a lot about being gaijin, that whilst the Japanese will always be very kind, they will never let you into their soceity. Certainly as I walked down the streets, the combination of signs I could not read, and the greeters snubbing me from their usual attempts to get you to enter their bar, had me believing it.

In fact the only time I got stopped by anyone was by a skinny tall American who wanted me to go to his gentleman’s club. I’m not really sure what the deal was, 6,000 Yen (about $55) for 90 minutes, all the beer I could drink. What set his club apart from the others in the area, apparantly, was the unlimited beer and the fact that the girls wouldn’t hassle me. The idea that you only get 90 minutes is a weird one – how do they know how long you’ve been there? Anyway, I had already read that almost all such establishments in Japan that cater to foreigners are ripoffs in the best Soho tradition (overpriced ripoffs at best, violent life-threatening at worst) and I wasn’t interested.

On the way back to the hotel I noticed my colleagues in the Rose and Crown so stopped and have a couple of pints. Until then the only beer I had imbibed was Asahi which is actually pretty good, and sadly the two brews I had in the Rose did not compare. And at 850Yen (about $8) a pop you can’t be wasting money on non-tasty drinks.

It looks like we won’t be working this weekend so I hope to get out and see a lot more of the city, maybe even take a trip outside if I can work it out. I am putting photos in a Tokyo photoset on flickr as I take them. Not much to show for it yet, though. More later.

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October 19th, 2006 at 2:00 pm

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